Although these scenarios may not apply to everyone going through a separation, I have compiled a list of the most common misconceptions when it comes to separating from your spouse:
1.He/She is entitled to half my stuff because we’re common law married.
- North Carolina does not currently recognize the concept of common law marriage. Therefore, regardless of how long you live with someone, that does not entitle them to any ownership rights in your possessions.
2. I can speed up the divorce process.
- There are only three requirements for a divorce in North Carolina. 1) Your must have a legal marriage, 2) You must be living separate and apart for one full year, with the intent for the separation to be permanent, and 3) one of you must be a resident of North Carolina for at least six months. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed up the one-year separation requirement.
3. My wife and I are sleeping in separate bedrooms, so we must be separated.
- In order to be living separate and apart for the purposes of divorce, spouses must be living at two separate residences. Even living in the guest bedroom above the garage does not meet the North Carolina requirement for living separate and apart.
4. I need to file paperwork to get separated from my spouse.
- You do not need to file anything in order to begin the one-year waiting period for a divorce. By physically living separately, you have started the one-year period.
5. Since my husband doesn’t pay me child support like he’s supposed to, he has no right to visit our children.
- In North Carolina, child support and visitation are not dependent on each other. If a parent is failing to pay his/her child support obligation, you must seek a different remedy than to withhold visitation.
6. Moms will automatically get custody of the kids when we separate.
- Mom’s don’t automatically get primary custody of their children when Mom and Dad separate. Judges often look to who was the primary caretaker of the child/dren when the parents were together in order to make their decision as to who the children will be living with.
7. I get to write-off any alimony and child support I pay to my ex.
- If you pay alimony or child support, neither of those payments are tax deductible.
8. We have to have a Judge decide how we split up our assets and debts.
- Most spouses resolve how they want to split their assets and debts without ever having to see a Judge. These issues are often resolved either before, or during the court-ordered mediation process. People usually do not want a Judge dictating how their property is to be split. This makes the mediation process an ideal method of resolving these issues.